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China plans to explore Red Planet by 2020


08-25-2016 05:24 BJT

China has announced its plans to explore Mars by 2020. That means sending a spacecraft to orbit the Red Planet, land, and then deploy a rover.

This is what China says its first ever Mars voyager will look like as it approaches the red planet. An all-in-one vessel that includes an orbiter to orbit Mars a landing capsule, to touch ground and a rover, to eventually explore.

"What we are aiming at now is to launch the voyager in July or August 2020. Our overall concept for the mission is to do it in two stages. Stage one is to actually orbit Mars, stage two is to land on Mars and to collect samples from it. We hope to do that before 2030," said Zhang Rongqiao, chief designer, China Mars Exploration Mission.

On Tuesday, the science administration unveiled these images to the public, a depiction, it says, of what the voyager itself will look like. The government is hoping the pictures will inspire the public to get on board figuratively speaking. At a press conference in Beijing, officials kicked-off a contest to name the voyager and design its logo.

"The Chinese people are looking up to the country's first Mars exploration mission as an innovative engineering project. It's also drawn attention from the international community. The competition can be viewed in that cultural context," said Liu Jizhong, deputy director general of China Mars Exploration Mission.

So far, there have been 43 exploration missions to Mars. They've been conducted by the US, Russia, India, Japan and the European Space Agency, but only half have succeeded.

China says it views its Mars mission with great pride, and soon hopes to join an elite club of nations.

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